A former Minnesota Republican Party chair has started a new political fund aimed at counteracting the influence of single-issue politics.
Citing the GOP's refusal to endorse lawmakers who voted in favor of single-sex marriage, Pat Shortridge says his group Minnesotan's (sic) for Conservative Leadership will invest in the campaigns of excellent leaders. The group registered with the state on Monday.
Shortridge tells MPR “At times we’re going to have internal disagreements in the family, we’re going to come to a different conclusion on particular issues. Does it make sense to sacrifice a great conservative and a great leader, someone who has done a ton for the party over one vote or one issue?”
The Star Tribune notes Shortridge has been a consultant to high-profile campaigns and says he and the group's treasurer, Lonny Leitner, have national connections that can bring in campaign cash.
Shortridge tells the Star Tribune his group is tracking the races of two Republican lawmakers who supported gay marriage "very, very, very closely." Those are state Representatives Jennifer Loon of Eden Prairie and David FitzSimmons of Albertville.
MPR reports, though, that FitzSimmons ended his re-election bid after the Republican party endorsed a challenger and has now decided against running in a primary. Loon also failed to win the support of party activists, who made no endorsement in her race.
In November another of the four Republican House members who supported gay marriage, Andrea Kieffer of Woodbury, announced she will not run for re-election this year.
Shortridge tells the website politics.mn his group's objective is to shield Republicans from a "circular firing squad." He sees party backlash against Loon and FitzSimmons as part of that, but says there's more to it, adding "There's a broader principle at stake here than just the marriage fight of the last few years."